A League of Their Own: Pakistani Women Go Digital

Maria Umar is challenging the cement ceiling as an international entrepreneur and a key player in Pakistan's burgeoning tech scene. She is revered as one of the trailblazers in the female entrepreneurial revolution, and focuses her efforts on furthering work opportunities for women in Pakistan.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Umar was a full-time teacher. She quit after her job refused her maternity leave and subsequently began writing for a woman she found through Rozee.pk, Pakistan's premiere job portal. The money was good — almost double what she made as a teacher — but when Umar discovered her employer's oDesk profile, she realized she could make even more money by contracting with clients directly.

She set up her own oDesk account and began taking on extra jobs and outsourcing them. At first she gave the jobs to her nieces, then to their friends, and eventually to their classmates, until she realized that she had developed a small content-creation business.

Today, this company is called The Women's Digital League, an IT-solution company that trains rural Pakistani women in micro online tasks, from ghost-writing to social media management. Its entry, Celebrating the Strength, Courage and Talent of Pakistani Women One Digital Task at a Time, has been selected as a finalist in the Changemakers Women Powering Work: Innovations for Economic Equality in the MENA Region competition.